Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) has called on USDA to label mechanically tenderized beef products to “better protect” the public from foodborne illness. In a letter to USDA, DeLauro said consumers need to know that mechanically tenderized beef products are non-intact cuts and should be cooked similar to ground beef, including a higher cooking temperature than whole cuts of beef.
She noted, “In order to safely prepare these products, consumers must cook them to the appropriate temperature – a temperature which they cannot determine if they are unaware that the product is not a whole, intact cut of meat. Continued inaction only places the public health at risk. It is imperative that the agency act before another grilling season comes and goes, with tens of millions of pounds of mechanically tenderized beef products being sold to unaware consumers who unknowingly place themselves at risk.”
A 2008 USDA study indicated that approximately 50 million pounds of mechanically tenderized beef products were sold monthly.